Monday, May 30, 2011

A goose egg for turkey season?

By Mac Arnold
MAHFS editor

It's looking more and more like the only thing I'll be tallying for this spring turkey season here in Michigan is a big, fat goose egg.

Although I came close to pulling off a Memorial Day miracle, as I had gobbles off the roost while coming into my early morning setup at Dairy Farmer Dave's and then later in the morning when there were two, maybe even three birds, displaying in the field I was patrolling.

This is as much action as I have had this entire season. I just had a feeling it was going to be good with the angry electrical storm the night before and the game predictor on the GPS also saying it would be an "excellent" day.

Unfortunately, as with most of my luck this season (remember the "Kiss of Death" morel mushroom finding earlier in the month, posted May 17?), I can't seem to get toms to either break away from the hens or come in period.

The previous was what was going on today.

Really, it was also Spring Turkey Hunting 101, for had I been in the woods a half an hour earlier I would have had a better shot of working that bird off the roost and cut him off before he made it to the other side of the field.

But in this case, I was huffing and puffing to get the blind up and in a setup that wouldn't be too close to spooking him in the process, all the while he's gobbling at my footfalls.

Then as I crossed the drainage creek that divides the woods and the open corn field, I saw a hen in the foggy morning mist.

Believe me, at 50 yards I was looking hard for a beard but alas there was none.

Weirdly, she seemed unfazed by my presence.

The gobbling continued to the left of me where I know is a favorite roosting spot of theirs above a containment pond. And it also holds an awesome place to set up known in my books as "The Spot," where I shot the three turkeys the previous fall, including Mr. Big with the 13 1/2-inch beard.

To be fair to myself, I hadn't really had any luck there so far this season so it's unlikely I would have chosen to prop up the blind there.

But had I, I might be telling you all now how I slayed the wily gobbler instead of another excuse story.

At 9 a.m., my cutoff time for the morning hunt unless I was into action, I stood up to grab the decoy and boom! There were five birds in the field and two of which were vigorous displaying to the mostly receptive hens.

I sat back down of course, and began calling with a new-found enthusiasm since I hadn't seen nor heard them since around 7 a.m. I had been convinced they had moved into the next township after the initial morning hookup.

But there they were!

After another hour, though, it was clear they liked their strut zone and weren't coming any closer -- which at the closest was probably 150 yards from me.

I was left with a decision that every spring turkey hunter faces: to stay put -- where likely nothing will happen other than bird watching or make the daring move in risk of possibly chasing them away into the next farmer's field in hopes of getting closer for a potential shot.

The move would be a 300-yard jaunt across a soggy field in the blazing spring sun, which sent temperatures soaring into the mid-80s.

I knew I wouldn't be able to look myself in the mirror as a fervent turkey hunter if I didn't make the attempt.

So off I went, keeping my head down and trying to blend my profile with adjacent wheat field -- glowing green and a wavy four feet from all the recent rain in Michigan's Thumb the past two weeks.

It was a noble attempt.

And it could have paid off handsomely with a long, likely drawn-out victory march with a 20-pounder hoisted over my shoulder.

But when I checked the wood line after an hour of calling, only the two hens were seen 100 yards away frolicking around the field pecking at seeds and bugs in the dark black dirt.

I called off the hunt at 11:30 a.m. and still made a drawn-out walk, less enjoyable without an added 20 pounds weighing me down.

By the time I made it back to the Jeep, I was scorched.

Regardless, at least that was a good way to end the season. I came close. Damn close.

But wait, I have one more day.

Hopefully it will be magical. And I will be set up this time in "The Spot."

Not sure though about another trek back across the field.


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